ATP022 Morton Feldman For Philip Guston John Tilbury Piano Carla Rees Flute Simon Allen Percussions
Appreciating For Philip Guston requires a totally different idea of the passing of time. It is a lengthy piece and calls for an approach to the listening experience which is quite diverse from that of a more conventional piece of music. It immediately recalls lengthier works composed in the 1930s – such as Kaikhosru Shapuri Sorabji’s Opus Clavicembalisticum or his Symphonic Variations for Piano (nine hours listening time …) for instance – or the more recent Road by Frederic Rzewski. Beyond a certain point – as in Bach’s The Goldberg Variations or The Art of Fugue, Beethoven’s Sonata op.106, the Symphonies of Mahler and Bruckner, etc – form and emotion-inspiring sound imply a sense of syntactic consequentiality. This is at times perceptible at various levels only with a great deal of concentration when listening, due to the length of the work. Here, the enchantment of sound does not imply previous knowledge – a view that Cage also shared, when he urged us to fling open our windows and listen to the sound of life. So, we must ask ourselves whether or not listening to what happens implies a new esthetic-anesthetic concept: accepting what reaches our ears and for however long. For Philip Guston, however, does not present us with the casual sound of life. It unfurls delightful, delicate filigrees that waft in and fade: sustained seduction, quivers of emotion that may recall Schubert’s “heavenly length” with regard to the need for detailed yet patient listening.